• Nigeria

    Sunday, June 22, 2008

    I have a flat in Africa.... Okay so not as enticing as the opening lines of the movie Out Of Africa, but as amazing all the same. As I flew over Nigeria descending into Lagos I could feel my heart racing. My dream of coming to Africa had arrived. I was eager to get through customs and on to the bus heading to our new home. Travelling the hour from the airport to our home was like no hour I had ever lived before. The things I saw! People everywhere! Cars everywhere! Nothing was familiar! Everything was exciting! In that first hour I knew I would love living in Africa. We were very warmly welcomed by some of our fellow compound livers. Roger had done a wonderful job getting our flat fixed up, painted and cleaned. There was a welcoming card and gift for each of us from Roger. A very thoughtful and loving jester to his three overwhelmed girls. The first week was spent unpacking our things from Malaysia, which had just arrived. We were able to make a home right away, which helped us all feel settled. The girls enjoyed playing with their toys and sleeping in there own beds. We are still waiting on our things from Canada, it is all in customs and we are hoping it will clear this week. I am starting to run low on the food we brought from Canada in our suite cases. I will post photos of our flat later when I have everything set up.

    We met many very nice people in the first week. They have all headed home for the summer months so things got very quite around here. It was a somewhat lonesome feeling for me. But I plunked down and set out a schedule. With the girls adjusted to time change and our house set up it was time to venture out! The first stop was the local market. Wow. The first thing to get use to is how 'white' I felt. Once I got use to being a light bulb I was able to get some shopping done. At the market you are never talking to just one person every decision is made by several people at once. I was bartering with one lady for some mangos and it seemed that every other lady in the area had to argue with me! I was almost in tears by their sterness and loud voices, resolved that I would not spend more then one dollar per mango I held firm. As soon as the deal is done they are the friendliest people! I went to the fish market this last week with my stewardess Patricia. The way she bargained I thought world war three was about to break out, I backed up towards the car but as soon as they struck a deal they were laughing and chatting with each other as old friends!
    I am amazed at how many wonderful fruits and vegetables I can get. It takes a while to get it all cleaned. Upon our return from the fish market this week (we also went to the produce market) we gutted and cleaned the fish which took an hour, then I cleaned the produce which needs to be soaked in a disinfectant, bugs removed, dried and put away. A very big job when you eat eighty-percent raw food.

    Another amazing thing I was able to do this week was spend some time at an orphanage. It is such an amazing place and I am so thrilled to be able to be a part of it. It is primarily a maternity clinic for low income women. They deliver about thirty babies a month and provide pre and post natal care for two hundred or so women each month. The clinic is run on the main floor of a very small building, the second floor is rented out and the income is spent on running the facility, the third floor is the office and home of the founder 'Mama', and a small baby orphanage of babies who were abandoned after birth or the mother died and the family never came to fetch the child. Also in the back yard a very humble shack was built to run a school for low income children ages three to seven. About thirty children crammed into this tiny hut (I have never seen such smiley children before). I had a wonderful chat with Mama on Saturday, she filled me in on her life's work. She was raised in Nigeria and trained in the U.K for mid-wifery she followed up those studies with a nursing degree then headed back to Nigeria where she started the clinic thirty odd years ago now. The whole community calls her Mama, she is showing signs of age and mostly spends her time on the couch with her feet up, but that does not stop her from caring for over twenty women a week. And she does a fine job running the place from up stairs (she has a large booming African women voice!)

    Mama and the nurses were eager to get me involved and equally eager to have Marion and Davina join me. So Monday we went and played with the babies. There are eight right now and the room holds (cramped) twelve. Eight babies seven months and younger. With only two attending nurses these babies spend the bulk of their days in cribs. They are very well taken care of with feedings three times a day and a soft bed. But I could tell with in the few moments of arrival that all the babies were delayed in their development. Marion had brought a bag of baby toys that flashed and sang, the older babied were mesmerized. They had never seen any thing of the sort. Marion read books and sang with them for an hour and those babies kept their eyes glued to her the whole time.
    I spent the bulk of the time cuddling the small babies, three days to two weeks old. I was holding this very sweet little girl, her name is Mary, she is two weeks old and weighs five pounds. As I was holding her I snuggled my lips into the nap of her neck and talked softly and kissed her I was so shocked when her eyes flew opened and she watched my every move. I realized she had never had that sort of affection. It broke my heart. When Davina was born Roger took two weeks off and the bulk of those weeks were spent with us adoring and loving our new baby. And now there is a sweet new baby named Mary with no one to sing sweet love to her in her first days, weeks, months, years? It was a simple morning of playing with babies in an over crowded hot orphanage nursery but I loved it and look forward to more involvement in such a wonderful place!

    Back to compound living... Roger and I have started working out together three times a week Patricia comes at six am and we have a date on the treadmill! On the off days Roger and I take tennis lessons. Such fun! But after only one week of all this activity I slept wrong and pinched a nerve in my neck so hopefully this week we can carry on. There is a nice big pool where the girls and I swim almost every afternoon, Marion also started swimming lessons this week. She will be going twice weekly. After just one lesson I could see a difference. Marion has struck up a friendship with a very sweet five year old, her name is Sabrina and she is from Malaysia. Marion and her are very similar in character, quiet and thoughtful. Roger and I are pleased that Marion has found a friend so soon. Sabrina has four sisters, one also being Davina’s age so I think our families will become close. We went to the beach yesterday. It is about an hour out of the city and very lovely. We rented a beach hut for the day, which was a wonderful way to relax.

    These three weeks have been incredible. It has been wonderful and I love it here. I am looking forward to the time of this been my home. Of course there is much to get use to. The noise never stops. There is a lot of poverty. There is nothing, nothing familiar about this place. This is Africa, not America or a wannabe. Nigerians are wonderful, very friendly, have the most beautiful smiles, they sing all day. I have much more to write but I need to make some dinner. I will write again soon on some more of Africa. I hope you enjoy the photos it is a bit hard taking pictures as most Nigerians do not like their photos taken.

    Making waffles!

    Marion and Davina's Play Room

    Across the street from Ife Oluwa Orphanage

    Birds for sale. $1 each...or $10 for Oyibo's.

    "Under the Bridge" or "The Fish Market"

    Patricia (in the pink) striking a deal for us.

    Produce from "Under The Bridge"

    Marion's first swimming lesson.

    Eleko Beach

    View from our beach hut. It's about $18 to rent one for the day.

    Traffic jam or "Go Slow" driving home from the beach.